A Depression Era Penny
If on the off chance you watch "Hidden Places" because you heard it was a depression era drama you are not only going to be disappointed but also depressed. Oh it may be set in that era but this is a romantic drama with no grittiness and a wholesome, romanticized vision of those turbulent times. And talking of romanticized, well "hidden Places" is a romance and a very obvious one at that which is nothing but predictable but also enjoyable for those who have a romantic heart.
After the death of her husband and with the bank looking to foreclose on the mortgage times are hard for Eliza (Sydney Penny - McBride: The Doctor Is Out... Really Out), her children and Aunt Batty (Shirley Jones - Beyond the Poseidon Adventure) with the likelihood of loosing their orange farm very real. But then Gabe (Jason Gedrick - A Date with Darkness) a hobo appears like an angel, well the sheriff (Barry Corbin) having spotted him walking the train tracks picks him up and takes him to the farm to help out. But whilst Gabe is helpful and polite and quickly becomes one of the family Eliza has her reservations as it seems that he is running from something, but what? And will he be able to help keep the farm going?
I want to be enthusiastic about "Hidden Places" because it is an entertaining little TV movie with its romantic drama, but.... The trouble is that this is one seriously predictable movie, not just in the fact that it runs through an unoriginal story but it also telegraphs everything. When the movie opens and we see Eliza's husband Frank working himself into the ground and becoming angry you can guess he is going to keel over. You also know that when the unkempt Gabe goes to help on the farm that beneath the dirty clothes and stubble is a handsome man who will fall for Eliza and she for him. It makes it a movie you don't bother watching for the storyline.
So what do you watch it for because it is certainly not an authentic depression era drama as it is a seriously romanticized vision of the past? Well it is the romance, the softly lit scenes and the pleasantness of Gabe and Eliza falling for each other. It is seriously sweet and at times incredibly cheesy especially with Gabe being one of the nicest and politest men you will ever meet. But if you are a sucker for these overly nice romantic dramas then "Hidden Places" definitely works.
Now whilst director Yelena Lanskaya has crafted an obvious but beautiful movie, the scene with the oil burners placed out to save the crop being the pinnacle of this, the actual casting is spot on. 20 odd years after Sydney Penny starred alongside Clint Eastwood in "Pale Rider" she is still attractive but behind the look she plays a solid character, she makes Eliza beautiful but also someone who is tough and who doesn't let her guard down in fear of being hurt. Jason Gedrick is just as good as Gabe and he delivers the wholesomeness as well as the handsomeness of his character perfectly. And whilst Penny and Gedrick are the stars the supporting cast which includes Shirley Jones, Barry Corbin and Tom Bosley are just as good for this sort of movie.
What this all boils down to is that "Hidden Places" is a very obvious romantic drama which works through a familiar story and delivers some nicely crafted romantic scenes. It's not a great movie but if you are fan of romantic dramas which heavily lay on the romance it will be enjoyable.